Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Are you being treated like a child? Who controls what you get to hear?

There's a little story I've been sitting on for close to a year. It's time I told it.

As most of my readers know, I am a co-owner of Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd., a Christian homeschool curriculum developer and supply company. I resigned from day-to-day involvement in the company effective April 1 last year.

Shortly after I resigned, I received news that the company had been banned from displaying its materials at the homeschool convention sponsored by CHEC, the Christian Home Educators of Colorado, our local Christian homeschool association. The letter that informed us of our having been banned was strangely uninformative. I am not at home right now, so I don't have access to a PDF of the letter to show you. But, in essence, the author said, "You don't meet our standards. We are unwilling to talk with you about it. Don't ask."

Happily, I have enough of a relationship with the president of CHEC (not much, but enough!) that I wrote to ask what was going on, what insight he might be able to shed on the subject. . . . I mean: It's not as if Sonlight had changed in any fundamental way over the 13 years it had been in attendance at the CHEC convention. . . .

Ultimately, Sonlight received no written or full "official" explanation, but got the message: the convention committee was of the opinion that the company isn't Christian enough . . . primarily because it isn't strict enough in its young-earth teaching. It carries Usborne books that, as virtually all secular books that touch on issues related to origins, present an evolutionary perspective.

That Sonlight doesn't schedule those pages, or that, when it does schedule them, counters those presentations with young-earth creationist material: Not good enough. Someone--a child, perhaps, without Mom's or Dad's permission, or maybe even a mom or dad--might find the offending books so attractive that they will read those pages and become convinced of their truth. . . .

CHEC, apparently, can't trust Christian homeschoolers in Colorado to do their own research, read what "the other side" is saying, and/or come to their own conclusions in these matters. CHEC feels the need to protect homeschool families from themselves . . . and from companies like Sonlight that don't teach origins in quite the way CHEC prefers.

What really bothers me: CHEC's behavior, in essence, answers my paper--Young-Earth and Old-Earth Creationists: Can We Even Talk to One Another?--in the negative: "No. We can't. And, to the extent it is up to us, we won't."

Moreover, its behavior suggests that, if it were up to CHEC, they would keep modern homeschoolers away from a whole lot of evangelical and fundamentalist stalwarts of the last hundred years or more: people like B.B. Warfield (a giant in conservative biblical studies during the late 19th century), J. Vernon McGee (key radio evangelist of the mid-20th century with the Back to the Bible broadcast), James Dobson (yes, that James Dobson--of Focus on the Family), and others. Y'know, these guys simply weren’t (or aren't) "pure" enough in their stance on the age of the earth and/or the specific mechanism(s) by which God created the world. Only leaders who teach in lock-step with Ken Ham and the Answers in Genesis and Institute for Creation Research crowd deserve a place at the CHEC convention.

Pretty amazing . . . and depressing (in my opinion).

But Sonlight's banning occurred quietly. In the "back room."

Who heard?

I think CHEC hoped to keep it that way.

But I finally decided to tell the story. Because I don't think stories like this should remain hushed up. We need to know how our knowledge is being circumscribed.

If you're involved in homeschooling, especially Christian homeschooling, I wonder if your state convention sponsors may be keeping you from hearing the "other side" in debates that concern you?

****Editorial "Revision" (1/30/09; 6:20PM): I was just reviewing some old documents and discovered my memory of the chronology of events was incorrect. I want to correct, here, my false memories of chronology.

I will post a separate/new post with unmistakable details that may clarify and/or throw greater light on what really has taken place.

(1/31/09; 11:30AM): Full update is now available here.)
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